I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma in August 2011. It is unfortunately incurable and I am approaching the end of my life.
As part of my Bucket List I challenged myself together with my husband Chris to raise £50,000 for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre before I die. Within 2 years we had gone much further and raised over £100,000, and now have a far more ambitious target of £250,000. We chose the YCC because the money goes directly to improving the quality of life for people with cancer. They are a small charity and this money will make a real difference.
On the 31st August I jumped out of a plane on a tandem skydive from 10,000 ft. I am petrified of heights so this was a massive personal challenge for me, but one I found hugely exhilarating. The skydive itself was extremely kindly donated by Sara at GB Skydive in Bridlington so we could maximise the funds we raised for the YCC. Alec, my tandem instructor looked after me so well. Chris and the family cheered me on from the comfort of the ground.
My next challenge was a little more sedate but still scary & extremely difficult. As part of my Bucket List I wanted to play a concerto with a proper orchestra. This is a dream I've had since being a little girl watching Young Musician of the Year. The Manchester Medics Orchestra kindly volunteered to accompany me. So on 29th November 2014 in the beautiful St Ann's church in Manchester I performed Mozart's flute concerto in G Major with my family and a small audience watching. The acoustic was gorgeous and barring a couple of blips in the fast passages I think I did a reasonable job. This was a very special tick on my list.
A large proportion of our fundraising comes from the sales of my books The Other Side and The Bright Side (www.theothersidestory.co.uk). Our other fundraising events have included Chris walking the 96 mile West Highland Way in August 2012 and we both completed the Jane Tomlinson 'Walk for All' 13 mile Windermere event in September 2012. Together with my friends Kay & Claire we run regular successful 'Big Bake' sales at Bexley Wing In Leeds (https://www.facebook.com/TheBrightSideBigBakeCakeLadies). I swam the equivalent distance of the English Channel over June this year and Chris completed an arduous trek on the Great Wall of China with a team from ASDA in October. We are constantly planning new fundraising events and have been amazed by how infectious and addictive the charity work is.
Chris completed #drychemo in early 2015 in solidarity with me while I couldn't drink during my latest course of treatment. He did fantastically well and kept up his abstinence longer than me!
Our next joint challenge was the Leeds 10k on 12th July 2015. I've never been much of a runner but wanted to give this a good go. I went to watch the race to support a friend last year and was touched by the really special atmosphere. I was very lucky to be part of the starting committee & once this duty was performed we cracked on. Chris encouraged me all the way around & we completed the race in 99mins - not the speediest but I was really pleased.
Already dreaming up our next challenge which is also a Bucket List tick and a nod of remembrance to Chris's Grandma. We are going to try climbing to the top of Snowdon in early Autumn...
Thank you so much for everyone's generosity in supporting this fantastic charity. You are all truly amazing.